It’s the season, and we’re not talking about the holiday season. We’re talking about summertime and the local fruit and vegetable season. So long storage crops, it’s time to start eating fresh!

Willy Street Co-op is committed to supplying its members and community with the freshest, highest quality produce at a fair price. By sourcing our products locally and in season we are more likely to fulfill that commitment. It also provides us an opportunity to invest in our local economy and environment. Today, Wisconsin has more organic farms per capita than anywhere except California. Our state’s agricultural tradition is still growing, and we are supporting it.

Sourcing locally provides its own challenges

Unlike many grocery retailers, we place dozens of orders, receive dozens of deliveries, and process hundreds of invoices a week. For most businesses, this is a recipe for disaster. For Willy Street Co-op, it is the key to our success!
This will be my second full local season as Produce Manager. Fortunately, the previous Produce Managers, Loretta Wilson and Jenny Ohlsen laid the groundwork for planning and created systems to help manage this unorthodox method of produce retailing. And, believe me, planning is the key to a successful local season!

The planning process

We start planning with our local suppliers in January. I sit down with the Produce Buyers, and we take a look back at the previous year—what worked well and what didn’t. We take into consideration the quality of product provided, as well as quality of services. Did deliveries arrive on time? Were our orders consistently filled? Was the invoicing clear and accurate? Were their boxes properly labeled? These are just a few of the criteria we consider before we sit down and commit to local suppliers. Business is business, and it’s no mystery we’ve continued to work with some of our suppliers for over 20 years.

This year’s local produce

Following is a list of local products, when their season begins, and whom we are sourcing them from. Hopefully, it will help you plan your local purchases! Keep an eye on our Coming Soon/Last Chance chalkboard in the Produce aisle for a heads up as to what is coming or going. As always, we’ll be using purple price inserts in our signage to indicate local products. Availability should remain consistent through the season, but we’ll be offering specials on many of our local products when they are in peak production! Check the Reader for Rewards and keep an eye out for our red Bi-Weekly signage on the aisle. Peak season means superior product at a great price! This is a good time to plan on preserving your favorite local goods! Enjoy!

May
Arugula (bagged): Harmony Valley
Asparagus: Blue Valley Farms and Tipi Produce
Burdock Root (over-wintered): Harmony Valley
Sauté Mix, Bagged: Harmony Valley
Herbs: Troy Community Gardens
Cilantro: Avalanche Organics
Salad Mix: Avalanche Organics and Harmony Valley
Spinach: Avalanche and Harmony Valley
Ramps: Avalanche and Harmony Valley
Rhubarb: Tipi Produce
Morel Mushrooms: Alan Stramm and Wayne Ewers
Lettuces: Tipi and JenEhr Family Farm
Parsnips (over-wintered): Harmony Valley
Radishes: West Star, JenEhr, and Tipi Produce
Tomatoes (greenhouse): Don’s Produce
Watercress: Avalanche
June
Basil: JenEhr and Troy Community Gardens
Beets: Harmony Valley
Bok Choy: Tipi
Broccoli: Tipi and JenEhr
Chard: Keewaydin
Collard Greens: Tipi
Dandelion Greens: Keewaydin
Fennel: Tipi
Kale: Tipi
Kohlrabi: JenEhr
Mustard Greens: Tipi
Parsley: Avalanche
Snow and Snap Peas: Tipi
Scallions: Avalanche
Strawberries: JenEhr
Sunchokes (over-wintered): Harmony Valley
July
Cucumbers (salad and pickling): Tipi and YesterYear
Carrots (bunched): JenEhr
Dill Heads for Pickling: Troy and West Star
Green and Yellow Beans: JenEhr
Summer Squash: Tipi
Torpedo, Red Onions: Avalanche
Baby Red Potatoes: Avalanche
Raspberries: Majestic Heights
Blackberries: Eugene Djikowski
August
Apples: Future Fruits and Ela Orchard
Carrots: Bulk and Bagged, Tipi
Eggplant: Tipi and Happy Valley
Edamame: Harmony Valley
Sweet Corn: West Star
Garlic: Harmony Valley,
Vermont Valley, West Star, Avalanche
Onions (Walla Walla): Tipi
Melons, melons, and more melons: Tipi
Peppers (red, green, yellow, orange): Tipi
Peppers (hot): Tipi, Luna Circle
Potatoes: West Star, Vermont Valley, Driftless Organics, Igl’s
Shallots: Harmony Valley
Tomatillos: Luna Circle
Tomatoes: Troy Community Gardens, Avalanche, Happy Valley, YesterYear, Tipi
September/October
Brussels Sprouts: Tipi
Cauliflower: Tipi and JenEhr
Romanesco: Tipi
Turnips, Celeriac, Rutabaga, Parsnips, Sweet Potatoes: Harmony Valley
Tah-Tsai, Mizuna: Tipi
Cranberries: Ruesch Century Farms
Winter Squash: Avalanche and YesterYear